Ms. KLOBUCHAR . Mr. President, I am in the Chamber to speak to some amendments to the Energy bill which the Senate debated last week and is continuing to debate this week.

The first is an amendment I offered last week, along with Senator Snowe, where we are joined by many Senators, including Senator Bingaman, who is managing the bill on the majority side, as well as Senator Collins and Senator Coleman, as well as Senators Kerry, Boxer, and Carper.

There are a number of people supporting this amendment throughout the Senate because they understand if we are going to discuss any kind of climate change policy going forward, we at least need to have accurate information. Other countries are doing this quite successfully.

The idea is to have one gathering place for information, and that would be our EPA. The amendment gives them latitude to set this up as they would like, but the idea is to have one place for a carbon registry or, to make it easier, a carbon counter. I figure if Weight Watchers can have a calorie counter, we can have a carbon counter.

Now, what is interesting about this is the type of business support we have seen for action in this area. Obviously, we have seen action across our States--in places such as my State of Minnesota, in places such as California and Arizona and New Jersey--all over this country.

I have often said the States have taken the lead, that they have been more than the laboratories of democracy, they have been the aggressors. One of our national magazines this week has a picture of Governor Schwarzenegger and Mayor Bloomberg on the front cover, and it says: ``Who Needs Washington?'' Because they are moving so quickly? Well, that cover says it all.

We need to be relevant. We need to lead the national energy policy. We need to at least gather the information we need to make good decisions about climate change policy going forward.

Now, as for the businesses, in January, it made quite a big splash when some American businesses came together to form the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. They actually urged Congress to fast track a greenhouse gas inventory and registry. They asked it be done by the end of this year.

With my short time in the Senate, I realize you cannot wait until September or December to get this idea passed. If you are actually going to get it done by the end of the year, you need to get it passed now.

Now, let me go through some of the companies that are part of this U.S. CAP group that is advocating for change, that is acknowledging climate change is an issue, and is advocating for a national registry. They include Alcoa; American Industry Group, or AIG; Boston Scientific Corporation; BP America; Caterpillar; ConocoPhillips;

Deere & Company; the Dow Chemical Company; Duke Energy; DuPont; General Electric; General Motors Corporation; Johnson & Johnson; Marsh, Inc.; PepsiCo; PG&E Corporation; PNM Resources; Shell; and Siemens Corporation.

These are the kinds of companies I am talking about.

Now, there has been some concern expressed over this bill by the National Chamber of Commerce, and I have to tell my colleagues it kind of surprises me. First of all, we have a number of good business Democrats as well as good business Republicans on this bill who understand that you don't want 31 States doing their own national climate registry. I don't have a problem with it because there is no choice. It is the right thing to do. But, in fact, it is much better if we do this on a national basis involving the U.S. Government.

Responding to the challenges these businesses laid out, the Klobuchar -Snowe-Bingaman amendment establishes a national greenhouse gas registry that will gather and consolidate consistent, transparent, and reliable data on greenhouse gas emissions at the facility level. The amendment, as I mentioned, requires the Environmental Protection Agency to consider cost and coordinate with existing Federal and State programs in implementing the registry.

The new registry only covers major emitting facilities and major sources of fossil fuel. Utilities already reporting under the Clean Air Act would not have to report their data twice.

How this is working now is a patchwork of reporting. Some industries are reporting to the Energy Department, some industries are reporting to the EPA, some are reporting every 3 years, some are reporting every year, and it makes it very difficult to get the kind of greenhouse gas emissions data we need to make adequate decisions about climate change legislation.

Let me say this bill, with three Republicans and several Democrats on it, does not in any way dictate what our next step will be for climate change. It puts the data in place as these major companies asked for and fast-tracks it by the end of the year.

I also note that for facilities facing burdensome costs in purchasing advanced monitoring equipment, the EPA would accept basic fossil fuel data, which is collected by businesses for general accounting purposes. The EPA would then calculate emissions based on that fuel data.

The amendment also specifies that confidential business information would not be published; however, we will have a Web site which would at least give the greenhouse gas emissions data to the public.

There was a recent report by National Public Radio which showed that a reporter tried to find out who are some of the larger emitters of greenhouse gases in this country. She was unable to figure it out. She could figure it out in Canada. Because greenhouse gases are invisible, it is very difficult to do by looking at businesses. The registry excludes small businesses as defined by the Small Business Administration, which is less than 500 employees that emit less than 10,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas per year.

This amendment makes a lot of sense. It is a commonsense amendment, and I am going to be urging my colleagues to support it in the next 2 days. If we can't take this simple step when we are looking at an energy bill, as we are looking at a new direction for energy policy and as we are looking at great new ideas for buildings and appliances--as I like to say, I heard somewhere of building a fridge to the 21st century--as we look at the possibility of raising the gas mileage standards and setting standards in a way that will spur investment across this country, we have to put in place at least the building blocks, sensible building blocks toward a new climate change policy.

The other thing I would like to address today on this vital topic of energy security is the role I believe renewable fuels ought to play in meeting our Nation's future energy needs.

The United States today spends more than $200,000 per minute on foreign oil. That is $200,000 per minute. That is $13 million per hour. The money is shipped out of our economy, adding to our enormous trade deficit, and leaving us vulnerable to unstable parts of the world to meet our basic energy needs.

Oil companies would have you believe that energy security is decades away; that we need some new technology, some vehicle of the future before we can break the stranglehold oil has on us. I believe we are going to see this new technology. I believe we are going to see these vehicles of the future. But meanwhile, we can't sit and wait and wait and wait. We have to start now.

Any Minnesota farmer can tell you that one way to go about this is with homegrown renewable fuels. They are here today. Ask someone in Brazil, and they will tell you that with sugarcane, they become energy independent. They moved to homegrown energy. In our State, they are ready to use this homegrown energy, and they believe it will help us to break free from our addiction to oil.

Consider this: In 2006, ethanol offset the need for 170 million barrels of imported oil and kept $11 billion in rural America. Consider this as well: A flexible fuel vehicle driven on about 85 percent ethanol fuel offsets 477 gallons of gas per year. A hybrid electric vehicle saves 94 gallons. That means that flex-fuel vehicles run on high blends of renewable fuels are by far our best near-term opportunity for energy independence. Obviously, the best is to combine these vehicles.

Renewable fuels also have tremendous potential to revitalize our rural economy. Ethanol has been nothing short of a revolution in our State. We have 16 ethanol plants up and running and 5 more under construction. By 2008, Minnesota will be producing 1 billion gallons of ethanol each year, and that will generate $5 billion for the State's economy and support 18,000 jobs.

Last year, my daughter did a report for her sixth grade class on ethanol, and she interviewed a number of farmers throughout Minnesota. She drew a big picture with the State of Minnesota on it. She had two little dots designating Minneapolis and St. Paul. Then she had this huge circle that said Pine City, home of farmer Tom Peterson.

Well, that is the future for rural America. That is what is revitalizing so many of our towns. Of course, we started with corn-based ethanol and soybean-based biodiesel. But now we are moving to a new level with cellulosic ethanol which can involve all kinds of things. We are focusing on switchgrass and prairie grass and doing this in a way that is good for our environment and carbon neutral and creates habitat for wildlife, something our hunters in Minnesota are very interested in. I know the Presiding Officer's brother who lives in Minnesota is especially interested as a hunter in having that habitat that we need.

In spite of the clear advantages of renewable fuels to our economy and our energy security, we face a chicken-and-egg-type problem when it comes to the challenge of making them available to more drivers. The automakers haven't traditionally wanted to sell flex-fuel vehicles in areas where there are no E85 pumps, and the gas stations don't want to put in E85 pumps when there are no flex-fuel vehicles. That is why I am so pleased the amendments that came out of the Commerce Committee, on which I serve, included not only the increase in gas mileage standard but also a requirement that by 2015, 80 percent of the vehicles produced be flex fuel.

In order to ensure that the drivers who purchase the flexible-fuel vehicles know they can use E85, our language requires automakers to put that information on the fuel tank cap and to put a flex-fuel emblem on the back of the vehicle that drivers will be able to recognize.

On the other end of this problem--the ability for consumers to fill up their cars with ethanol and biodiesel--it is crucial that Congress act to provide more American drivers with access to renewable fuel pumps.

Right now, Minnesota ranks first in the country for E85 pumps. We have more than 300--I think the last number I heard was 314--of the 1,200 pumps nationally, far more than any other State. That is great for Minnesota, and it shows the vision of our State government in Minnesota, but it limits the positive impact that renewable fuels can and should have on the entire Nation's security. If we are serious about finding alternatives to foreign oil, we should ensure that drivers in every State have access to E85 and biodiesel.

That is why I wish to speak to two amendments to the Energy bill aimed at making renewable fuels available across the country. Senator Bond and I have introduced an amendment that would provide grants to promote the installation of E85 biodiesel pumps at gas stations nationwide. I would also like to thank Senator Voinovich, Senator Hagel, and Senator Kerry for their support of this amendment.

In past years, Congress has only provided a small amount of money each year for E85 infrastructure, and last year, even that small amount of funding was cut. As a Nation, we are stuck in a rut. Less than 1 percent of the gas stations sell E85. It is time for the country to make a serious investment in renewable fuels. That is going to mean, as I said, more flex-fuel vehicles. It is also going to mean investment in cellulosic ethanol, acknowledging we are not going to have all this ethanol based on corn and we are not going to have just soybean-based biodiesel; that there are all kinds of possibilities, as we move forward, for how we are going to get our ethanol. We need to be creative about that and we need to put the investments in place and put the standards in place.

But what we need, if we are going to do this, is the pumps on the ground. That is why Senator Bond and I have an amendment to give grants for ethanol and biodiesel pumps. It would be enough for 1,000 to 2,000 new pumps, which would nearly double or triple what we have now.

I am also introducing an amendment that would block oil company tactics to keep renewable fuels out of gas stations. I have heard from gas stations in Minnesota that their franchise contracts make it difficult to sell ethanol and biodiesel, so many of them can't even do it. Here are some examples. Remember, these are just dealing with gas stations in which they have franchise contracts involving the oil companies: They are not allowed to sell renewable fuels under the main canopy that bears the oil company name. They are not allowed to convert the pumps they already have to sell E85 or B20. They can't put up signs to let customers know they have renewable fuel or how much it costs.

That is why I call it the ``Right to Retail Renewable Fuel.'' Look what we have on the other side. We have these oil companies. Last year, Exxon made $29 billion in profit--a record--and the big five oil companies made $120 billion. Now they are blaming ethanol, the small amount--these 1,200 pumps across the country at 170 gas stations--they are blaming that for the reason they can't do anything about their refineries. It is outrageous.

We need to encourage competition. That is what I am trying to do with the right to retail renewable fuel amendment. This amendment would prohibit oil companies from placing restrictions on where and how renewable fuels can be sold to gas stations. This will ensure that franchise owners across the country have the ability to make ethanol and biodiesel available to their customers.

In conclusion, I believe that ethanol and biodiesel have tremendous potential to meet the energy needs of our country. Again, I think of the ethanol industry akin to the beginning of the computer industry when we had the big computers in the room. That is where we are. It is going to become more efficient, it is going to become better for the environment, and it is going to become less costly as we move forward. That is why we are moving into things such as cellulosic ethanol that can be grown on marginal farmland that is carbon neutral and that takes less energy to produce.

I believe these alternative fuels will move us toward energy independence in the immediate term--not decades from now. I believe we ought to use the Energy bill before us as an opportunity to invest in renewable fuels and to make them available to every American driver. I believe we should be investing in the farmers and the workers of middle America and not the Middle East.

Mr. President, I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.